50 States/50 Countries-Big Island Hawaii

PICT1545 (2)The 50th State…the big island of Hawaii…Volcano National Park. You’ve heard about it in the news, the recent eruption of Kilauea, homes destroyed, people evacuated. The destructive power of molten lava. Thought you might enjoy a tour in more peaceful time and learn more about this force of nature.PICT1500There are three main volcanoes on the big island (six all together), Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea, the most active, has a fire pit called Halemaumau. This is where most eruptions occur, but a vent can open up anywhere in this region.PICT1585 (2) You can see the steam, feel the heat, and smell the sulfur…truly Hell on Earth.PICT1577 (2)

Mauna Kea (tallest mountain in the world measured from the ocean floor) is dormant for now and is high enough it gets snow in winter and you can ski on it when it does. Volcano National Park is located near Kilauea.PICT1584 (2)Look close and you can see the Park’s lodge sitting right on the crater’s edge…and yes, they have had to evacuate but the Volcano House has never been destroyed. http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/PICT1578 (2)PICT1574 (2)Walking through the crater…PICT1579 (2)PICT1569 (2)PICT1588 (2)Halemaumau…the fire pit!PICT1587 (2)Lava Flows after it cools….PICT1583 (2)When hot lava hits trees, the wood burns to ash, but the sap in the tree can cool the lava enough to leave strange formations…a forest of “lava” trees…PICT1597 (2)PICT1598 (2)As the lava heads toward the sea the outer portion of  the flow can start to congeal, creating a lava tube.PICT1573 (2)Inside Thurston Lava Tube…PICT1592 (2)Finally when the lava does reach the sea, it cools down to large chunks of volcanic rock which wears down over time from the ocean waves to create Hawaii’s famous black beaches…PICT1590 (2)The big island is still growing and every time there is an eruption, it creates more land. The rich volcanic soil (in due time) is perfect for growing things and plants, trees do come back eventually other than in the crater itself…

Aloha & happy travels!  Rich

 

 

50 States/50 Countries – Windsor Castle

PICT0731 (2)Everyone is getting excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding (week from Saturday) and the site of the wedding in Windsor Castle, so I thought I’d share a few photos of my visit there during Queen Elizabeth’s 25th Anniversary celebrations…

PICT0713 (2)Notice the date on the banner 1977!

PICT0714 (2)Queen Elizabeth the First (The Virgin Queen)

PICT0720 (2)A busy weekend at Windsor…

PICT0718 (2)Four Musketeers?

PICT0728 (2)When this flag is flying the Queen is in residence…

PICT0716 (3)MAKE WAY!

PICT0717Most folks don’t realize Windsor Castle is huge! (William the Conqueror built it starting in 1017 in the town of Windsor, high above the Thames River, and completing construction 16 years later in 1033 AD).

PICT0726 (2)Inside the walls around the castle keep…

PICT0727 (2)Arrow slots to defend the castle…not today, but a good vantage point to see and hear the band…

PICT0723 (2)Statue of a heraldic symbol…

The marriage chapel is inside and off limits to the general public, so I might as well just cruise on down the Thames to London…

PICT0712 (2)Good Day, Guv’ & Happy Travels!  Rich

 

 

50 States/50 Countries – Hawaii

The 50th State…Hawaii. Four main islands — Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. I was fortunate enough to visit here a couple of times and then live on Oahu from 2006-2008. Hawaii is truly paradise. I have so many favorites but here are a few photos of things you may not have seen before.PICT0099This Buddha is on the island of Maui just outside of Lāhainā. Photo was taken right after a rainstorm.PICT0021 (2)Lighthouse on the island of Oahu…fun hike to go out to see it.PICT0124Japanese cemetery and temple.PICT0196The official bird of the state of Hawaii, the nene goose is exclusively found in the wild on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and Hawaii.PICT0202 (2)Surface of the moon?  Nope…the interior of the Haleakala volcanic crater on Maui.PICT0055 (2)Wedding site…Kaneohe’s lush Haiku Gardens, just down from the restaurant Haleiwa Joe’s on Oahu…

I’ll post more later. Just wanted to send you a sample. Aloha & happy travels!  Rich

 

 

Humpback Whales

I recently watched Star Trek IV, “The Voyage Home,” directed by Leonard Nimoy, a story about how we hunted this magnificent creature of the sea to extinction, then had to travel back in time to capture a pair of Humpback Whales, return them to the future and save the planet. PICT0292 (2) - CopyAt the same time while converting old 35 mm slides to digital I came across a series of photos of these mammals that we photographed off Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1983.PICT0250 (2)Some pictures are not a sharp as I like, but were taken from a rocking boat in the Atlantic Ocean with a hand held film camera and a large lens.PICT0281Yes, Virginia, once upon a time people took pictures with a camera, not their phones…come to think of it (shudder) in 1983 nobody even had a cell phone, we had to stop the car, get out and find a pay phone to make a call.PICT0282 There was no “selfies” or Instagram. It’s true, look it up on the Internet…hey, we had no Internet or personal computers or tablets in 1983 either! I know, right, the stone age, where people had to talk to each other in person. Can you imagine?PICT0273But I digress…As Scotty once said, “Aye, Captain, there be whales.”PICT0280 (2)PICT0278 (2)PICT0279PICT0284 (2)PICT0267 (2)PICT0268 (2)PICT0355The Author…

 

 

Religion in Cairo

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The Christian world celebrated Easter yesterday (originally a Pagan celebration of spring & fertility…hence the decorated eggs)…and our Jewish friends observed Passover, which as we all know happened in Egypt.

Although some sage warned me years ago never to discuss politics, religion, sex or to appear in a movie scene with kids or animals, I am going to plow ahead.

I had the unique experience in one day some thirty-four years ago in Cairo, Egypt to visit three historic and significant sites for three of the planet’s major religions — Christian, Judaism, and Muslim.

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We had a guide who did an excellent job describing the sites in detail as well as the religions the sites represented.

What struck me was the similarities among all three religion with the central theme being a belief in one God and a set of morale values…a guide to show us how we should lead our lives and  treat each other.

Abu Serga church is considered one of the oldest churches in Cairo. This church was built during the 5th century, burned during the fire of Fustat during the reign of Marwan II around 750, then restored during the 8th century, and has been rebuilt and restored since medieval times. PICT0142 (2)

The church is believed to have been constructed where the holy family rested at the end of their journey into Egypt.

On the first day of June, the Coptic Church commemorates the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt by holding a mass on that day in this ancient church.

The Ben Ezra Synagogue (Hebrewבית כנסת בן עזרא‎,) is situated in Old Cairo. According to local folklore, it is built on the site where the pharaoh’s daughter found Moses hidden in the reeds of the Nile.

Ben-Ezra-Synagogue

PICT0145 (3)The founding date of the Ben Ezra Synagogue is not known, although there is good evidence from documents found in the geniza or store room that it predates 882 C.E. and is probably pre-Islamic.

A young couple from Israel approached us while we were there and asked if we would take their photo in front of the Torah. We did.

This was the synagogue whose geniza was found in the 19th century to contain a treasure of abandoned Hebrew, Aramaic and Judeo-Arabic secular and sacred manuscripts. The priceless collection was originally brought to Cambridge, England but is now divided between several academic libraries.

This temple today is only used as a tourist site. Egypt’s Jewish community is at the end of a dramatic decline, going from about 80,000 people in the 1920s to less than a dozen of Egyptian ancestry left today (descendants of the slaves that built the pyramids).

PICT0017 (3)Built from 1830 to 1848 by the commission of Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Muhammad Ali Mosque is the largest Ottoman mosque to be built in the early 19th century. The mosque is in the Citadel of Cairo, Egypt. With its twin minarets, animated silhouette and recognizable design, it is the most visible mosque in Cairo.PICT0156 (2)

The Mohammad Ali Mosque, designed by Greek architect Jacob Bushnaq of Istanbul, is eminently Turkish in style, echoing its Ottoman origins. The use of slim minarets, cascading domes, spacious interiors, large chandeliers, walls decorated with Thuluth inscriptions and beautiful hanging globe lamps are all reflecting the best mosques found in Istanbul. PICT0160 (2)

Set on the foot of the Mugattam Hills, the mosque dominates the whole Citadel, and it is the most visible monument on the Cairo skyline.

PICT0165 (2)On the inside, the rooms reflect some French Rococo as well as Art Nouveau influences, with heavily ornamentation of lines of green, red and gold. All in all, the mosque is as colorful as a Fabergé egg, and the exteriors are just exceptional. Interestingly, the mosque is made of some unusual choice of materials: alabaster and metal. Beautiful!

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What a speed dating type interaction with culture and religion…but one I will never forget…to walk the same alleyway as Mary carrying the Baby Jesus…PICT0136 (2)

To stand in a temple where Moses was found as a baby…

All set in ancient Egypt, land of pyramids & the Pharaohs…almost too much to comprehend.

Peace & Love & Happy Traveling.